Once Upon A Time VIII

Once Upon a Time VIII

It’s this time of the year again. Spring has started, which means Carl’s Once Upon a Time VIII has begun. The challenge runs until June 21st. Last year I was very active during RIP but couldn’t particpate in Once Upon A Time and felt I had missed out greatly. This isn’t going to happen this year.

I’m determined to read at least 4 books, but I’m not sure I will cover all the genres. For those who don’t know the challenge – the idea is to read fantasy, fairy tales, foklore and/or mythology.

These are some of my possible choices

Robin Mc Kinley’s Shadows


Shadows is a compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But-more importantly-what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago. Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too-and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage. In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive. About the author:Robin McKinley has won many awards, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown, a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword, and the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine. She lives in Hampshire, England with her husband, author Peter Dickinson Check out her blog at robinmckinleysblog.com.

Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint


On the treacherous streets of Riverside, a man lives and dies by the sword. Even the nobles on the Hill turn to duels to settle their disputes. Within this elite, dangerous world, Richard St. Vier is the undisputed master, as skilled as he is ruthless–until a death by the sword is met with outrage instead of awe, and the city discovers that the line between hero and villain can be altered in the blink of an eye.

Hailed by critics as “a bravura performance” (Locus) and “witty, sharp-eyed, [and] full of interesting people” (Newsday), this classic melodrama of manners, filled with remarkable plot twists and unexpected humor, takes fantasy to an unprecedented level of elegant writing and scintillating wit. Award-winning author Ellen Kushner has created a world of unforgettable characters whose political ambitions, passionate love affairs, and age-old rivalries collide with deadly results.

Cassandra Parkin’s New World Fairy Tales 


In contemporary America, an un-named college student sets out on an obsessive journey of discovery to collect and record the life-stories of total strangers. The interviews that follow have echoes of another, far more famous literary journey, undertaken long ago and in another world.
Drawing on the original, unexpurgated tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, six of their most famous works are re-imagined in the rich and endlessly varied landscapes of contemporary America.
From the glass towers of Manhattan to the remoteness of the Blue Ridge mountains; from the swamps of Louisiana to the jaded glamour of Hollywood, New World Fairy Tales reclaims the fairy tale for the modern adult audience. A haunting blend of romance and realism, these stripped-back narratives of human experience are the perfect read for anyone who has read their child a bedtime fairy story, and wondered who ever said these were stories meant for children.

Franny Billingsley’s The Folk Keeper

Folk Keeper

She is never cold, she always knows exactly what time it is, and her hair grows two inches while she sleeps. Fifteen-year-old Corinna Stonewall–the only Folk Keeper in the city of Rhysbridge–sits hour after hour with the Folk in the dark, chilly cellar, “drawing off their anger as a lightning rod draws off lightning.” The Folk are the fierce, wet-mouthed, cave-dwelling gremlins who sour milk, rot cabbage, and make farm animals sick. Still, they are no match for the steely, hard-hearted, vengeful orphan Corinna who prides herself in her job of feeding, distracting, and otherwise pacifying these furious, ravenous creatures. The Folk Keeper has power and independence, and that’s the way she likes it.
One day, Corinna is summoned by Lord Merton to come to the vast seaside estate Cliffsend as Folk Keeper and family member–for she is the once-abandoned child he has been looking for. It is at Cliffsend that Corinna learns where her unusual powers come from, why she is drawn to the sea, and finally, what it means to be comfortable in her own skin. Written in the form of a journal, The Folk Keeper is a powerful story of a proud, ferociously self-reliant girl who breaks out of her dark, cold, narrow world into one of joy, understanding, and even the magic of romance. Franny Billingsley, author of the critically acclaimed fantasy Well Wished, has created a vividly portrayed, deliciously frightening novel that will have readers glued to the pages until the very un-bitter end. (Ages 10 and older)


Thirteen-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending the summer of 1960 at her grandmother’s old house in the bayou. Bored and lonely, she can’t resist exploring the house’s maze, or making an impulsive wish for a fantasy-book adventure with herself as the heroine. What she gets instead is a real adventure: a trip back in time to 1860 and the race-haunted world of her family’s Louisiana sugar plantation. Here, President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is still two years in the future and passage of the Thirteenth Amendment is almost four years away. And here, Sophie is mistaken, by her own ancestors, for a slave.

If you’d like to join, plase sign up here. The review site can be found here.

34 thoughts on “Once Upon A Time VIII

    • I’m quite excited about the possible choices myself. 🙂
      Robin McKinley is amazing. I’ve read Chalice and dipped into a few, most of the time thinking – ah that sounds so good – i wantto keep it for later.
      Beauty is loved by most people. I loved Chalice.

    • I know you don’t. There are always genre blends to be discovered. I started Cassandra Parkin’s book and it’s very unusual. I think you’d even like it.

  1. This looks to be a fun reading event.

    I have read a fair number of books of this genre. There are so many great books. Your list looks very good. The books all look to be creative and a little different. I look forward to reading your commentary Caroline.

  2. Wonderful reading choices, Caroline! My favourites from your list are ‘The Folk Keeper’ and ‘The Freedom Maze’. I am especially interested in ‘The Folk Keeper’ – it is a book I would love to read too. Have fun participating in the event! I will look forward to reading your thoughts on the books you read. Happy reading!

    • Thanks, Vishy. When I put the list together I was tempted to start THe Folk Keeper right away. 🙂 And I would but I’m already reading two novels, which I ususally don’t do but I got such an amazing review copy. Last year’s Arthur C. Clarke winner, the sci-fi novel Dark Eden. Have you heard of it? It’s very, very unusual. And I’m finally reading Gone Girl. I wanted to know what the fuss is all about.

      • ‘The Folk Keeper’ is definitely hard to resist 🙂 I haven’t heard of ‘Dark Eden’, Caroline. But the title looks quite fascinating. Hope you are liking it. I read a few reviews of ‘Gone Girl’ – it does look like a dark and fascinating book. Happy reading! Will look forward to hearing your thoughts on them.

  3. Ah! it’s already that time of the year again. Wish I can join in but I don’t have neither the book nor the time for this 😦

    The Folk Keeper sounds intriguing, most intriguing than the others, IMO

  4. I bought Swordspoint some time ago and still haven’t read it – perhaps I should wait and read your review! Or maybe I should go and see if I can een find it!
    Lynn 😀

    • I read the first few pages and her descriptions are so lovely. I think it should be very good. It’s a type of fantasy I haven’t read yet.
      I hope we can compare notes some day. 🙂

  5. So many wonderful-sounding books on there! I’ve got Privilege of the Sword on my list. I can’t remember whether it goes before or after Swordspoint, though.

    And The Folk Keeper! That’s somewhere in the depths of my wishlist as well. I hope you’ll enjoy it! Have you read anything by Billingsley before or will this be your first encounter with her works? Parkins’ fairytale collection sounds fascinating as well.

    Happy reading! May it be a lovely OuaT season!

    • Thanks, Lynn. I wish you the same.
      It’s my first Billingsley.
      I started Parkins’ fairy tales and what I’be read so far is really good.
      I think Swordspoint is the first. Her writing looks amazing.

      • Thank you. ^_^

        Ooooooooh. If her Chime is anything to go by, then you’re going to be in for such a treat. ❤ I really hope you'll enjoy it. ^_^

        It sounds like such an intriguing idea… I'm really curious what you'll make of it.

        *goes look it up to be sure* Yep. Swordspoint is first. ^_^
        It really does. I’ve only taken a peek at Privilege of the Sword so far, but I’ve read her Thomas the Rhymer before and it was absolutely gorgeous.

  6. I was hoping to read something too, but I think I have too much going on at the moment–maybe something by Angela Carter as she tends towards fairy tale-ish stories. Otherwise I shall watch and live vicariously….

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